You might feel overwhelmed by the choice of vocabulary lists for the TOEFL you find online. It might seem impossible to memorize so many complicated words. Why should you bother memorizing so many words for the TOEFL test anyway?

Today we’ll tell you how to earn a winning TOEFL score by creating your own TOEFL vocabulary list, how to create and organize a list just for you, and how this list will lead to concrete results on the TOEFL.

Follow these steps to sort out the right vocabulary-learning strategy for you step by step.

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Using ready-made vocabulary lists to create your own

There are countless vocabulary lists already set to go available online or in paper form in books. You should find the best one that works for you, but how can you choose from so many?

We recommend that you create your own list from these sources. Every learner absorbs these words at their own pace; some people might catch on quick to word definitions, while others may struggle with unfamiliar terms.

Using ready-made vocabulary lists to create your own

Create your own vocabulary list

The first step you should do is to know what your current vocabulary is. The easiest way to do this is to take a practice TOEFL test. That way you can pinpoint where your weak areas lie and what category of vocabulary you need to brush up on.

Creating your own customized TOEFL vocabulary list is easy and will save you time in the end. Start with these recommended sources.

Remember that there is no specific vocabulary testing section on the TOEFL, but these lists are a good starting point for creating a personalized set of vocabulary so you can approach the test with confidence. You will be assessed not on how many words you know, but by your ability to use the right ones.

Most of these vocabulary lists contain up to 5,000 words. That might sound like a lot, but relax – no one expects you to sit down and memorize 5,000 words! You should focus on learning five words a day, but which ones? The best way to set out making a useful word list is to narrow down your words into particular situations, dialogs, or themes.

Create themed sets of vocabulary

First, go through some of these lists and dismiss the words you already know to unclutter the list. Then, based on your experience taking TOEFL practice tests, you can also dismiss words you have never seen before on the TOEFL. Why? This means these unfamiliar words are probably irrelevant to the TOEFL, so there’s no use wasting time on them. That way, you won’t be overburdened by cramming for vocabulary that won’t likely help you on the test.

There’s usually no point drawing from categories of words that won’t help you on your TOEFL. The GlobalExam platform offers abundant vocabulary lists suited for the TOEFL already broken down into categories for you. They are:

  • Communications
  • Education
  • Food & Drink
  • Home
  • Jobs & Work
  • Language Words
  • Pastimes
  • People
  • Social
  • Travel
  • Typical Expressions
  • World & Environment

Once you choose a category, add or subtract words from these lists to create your own revision file.

Rather than nouns, it’s generally advisable to focus more on adjectives, which will help embellish your writing and speaking styles. You should even sort your word lists into adjectives and nouns.

Tips to memorize your list

Remember, the key is to demonstrate that you understand individual words in context. As you’re preparing for the TOEFL, in addition to your personalized word lists, you should be reading textbooks, newspaper articles, and other non-fiction situations daily. When you spot an unfamiliar word, don’t just resort to looking it up in a dictionary right away. Make a note of it and try to guess what it means in the context. Later, you can add the word to your list if needed for further drilling. It’ll be a lot easier to memorize this way!

You should also regularly listen to spoken English recordings. TED Talks are a great source for authentic spoken English on a very wide variety of topics, and usually include a transcript option to pinpoint specific words.

Ideally, you should continue to expand and develop your list of vocabulary words as you come across them.

Effective vocabulary drills and exercises

Make sure that you revise your vocabulary daily, but also make sure that you’re having fun while doing it! There are lots of word memorization games and apps available (Scrabble, Words With Friends, Taboo, etc.) but you can do this alone by making flashcard exercises, which you can do alone and which you can repeat whenever you want.

Basically, flashcards show you a word on one side, then show you the definition of the word on the other. Several apps and websites can do this for you virtually, such as Quizlet, Anki, and Flashcard Online. Keep up with revising daily! You could even set a reminder on your phone.

Of course, it’s essential to know when to apply this knowledge and which words are suitable for which context. Once you learn a new word, you may be tempted to use it at every opportunity, but pay particular attention to how this word is used. For example, the word “incongruent” may be suitable to use in the Writing section to demonstrate an academic style, but it would be awkward to insert it into your Speaking section because it’s not very common when speaking casually!

How GlobalExam can help you master TOEFL vocabulary

Learning vocabulary is personal, and there’s no single strategy suitable for all test-takers. As we’ve seen, the first step is to create your very own TOEFL word list. Start with GlobalExam’s vocabulary files organized into categories and build your word list from there.

Then, practice spotting new words and using them in GlobalExam’s full practice TOEFL exams and no time, you’ll be ready to ace your TOEFL using all the training tools available, which are anything but “incongruent.” Good luck!

The more you enrich your vocabulary, the greater the chances of obtaining a good TOEFL IBT score. The examiners value the diverse vocabulary used during the writing and speaking section.

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